3 Jan 2018
Yesterday (3rd Jan) was one of the periodic meetings between CRT and the Elected Boater Representatives on the National Council, an opportunity to explore issues both parties want to raise.
The main subjects discussed on this occasion included:
1. Trust management restructure.
- The aim behind this restructure is to improve efficiency and at the same time to improve agility to respond to customer needs.
- The trust has operated for 5 years within the structure developed during the transition from BW and it is now an opportune time to update itself.
- The 2014 centralisation changes had many positives outcomes, but also some negative impacts on the flexibility of regional teams, and this process will address these issues.
- The Trust will move to six regions each with a Regional Director with teams to deploy according to local needs.
- The elements of the Trust which are best served by a national approach will be retained (eg. water management).
- The Waterways Partnerships will be revised to reflect the new regions and given a clearer mandate to develop local strategy, income generation and local engagement.
- This process is on going with the statutory consultation starting in mid December and running till mid February.
- All senior managers (about 85) are impacted, a population which will reduce as roles are redefined.
- A simplified "flatter" management grading system will be adopted.
- The Representatives flagged a number of potential issues at both a governance and a practical on the ground level, and these concerns were noted for consideration in the deployment planning process.
2. Short Term Moorings
- The Feb 2015 paper was revisited to consider if it remains fit for purpose.
- The feeling both within CRT and among the boater representatives is that the mooring strategy is being applied inconsistently
- There was a feeling that a "Mooring Etiquette Guide" is needed to help define the standards which are to be encouraged.
- Particular attention is needed in relation to disabled moorings (these are self policed and CRT do not validate boaters with disabilities)
- The regional short term mooring period guidance should be clarified to achieve greater consistency when applied.
- Guidance should also be offered on the expectation to close of gaps between moored boats to maximise the mooring availability, particularly in honeypot sites.
- There is feedback that some fishermen are asking for spaces to be left between moored boats. It was clarified that this spacing arrangement applies in just two locations and covers just the Winter Moorings. The policy is not applicable generally.
- The Etiquette issue will be developed within the Navigation Advisory Group (NAG).
3. Wide Beam Boats
- Feedback was sought on issues relating to the increasing number of widebeam boats navigating and mooring on the canals.
- Particular issues flagged up included the introduction of wide beams as houseboats on narrow canals, which therefore create a navigation obstacle, unless they remain within a purpose built marina.
- The increased number of wide beam craft on the Grand Union was highlighted given the limitations of navigable width in the extant water channel. It was observed that the canal was never designed for nor does it have a history of extensive wide beam usage.
- The disproportionate increase in the introduction of wide beam craft on the Grand Union over the last decade is raising the significance of the issue.
- It was observed that most wide beams are intended for use as house boats and the need to continually cruise to satisfy the licensing rules actually causes the navigation issue raised.
- Ideally the creation of off line moorings for wide beam craft would reduce the numbers navigating to just the occasional relocation trip. This would also encourage the development of unpowered houseboats more suited for use as a home.
- The costs associated with supporting wide beam passages through the Braunston and Blisworth Tunnels was raised.
- CRT staff listen to the various issues and will consider them in their future planning.
4. Licensing Review
- As at 18th Dec the third phase of the consultation process had attracted 10,915 responses, which equates to one third of the license holders.
- This is a very encouraging response rate and will provide a statistically credible picture of boater views. TONIC (the review contractor) are currently analysing the data with CRT in readiness for a Board Meeting at the end of January.
- Any changes will be phased in from April 2019 (not the current licensing year).
- The needs of business boats will be considered in the light of what is agreed for recreational boats and subject to its own consultation process.
5. London Mooring Strategy
- So far 1250 responses have been received out of a target of 4500, with a few more coming in after an extended deadline.
- Feedback is being reviewed internally by CRT and results are expected by the end of February.
- Overall the process applied to this review has attracted positive feedback.